Want to get the greatest nutritional benefits from your favorite fruits and vegetables? What about reducing food waste in the process? If your answer to both questions is a resounding yes, consider this a formal invitation to put your vegetable peeler back in its proper drawer in your kitchen. It turns out that certain fruit and vegetable peels can give a serious nutritional boost to your diet.
To find out why edible fruit and vegetable peels deserve a place in your diet, we contacted Megan RossicPhD, RD, a dietitian, gut health researcher at King’s College London, and author of: Eat more plants?.
The benefits of eating fruit and vegetable peels
If you’ve peeled apples, cucumbers, and countless other products to throw out the peel, Dr. Rossi that you are missing out on a world of nutritional benefits. “Over the course of my decade working as a dietitian and gut specialist, I’ve seen many peels and skins lost because their nutritional profile is unknown,” she says. But fear not, because a long-awaited lesson from product 101 is here.
For starters, many fruits and vegetables contain an impressive amount of fiber in these all-too-often thrown-away leftovers. “The rich fiber content in peels and skins is something we need to shout about more,” says Dr. Rossi. After all, fiber is an all-star diet for digestion, heart health, inflammationand more — and an overwhelming number of adults in the United States (about 93 percent, according to a 2021 report from the American Society for Nutrition) can’t get enough of this powerful nutrient. “Include more fiber in your diet can not only help keep your bowel movements regular, but also keep you full for longer and keep your blood fats in check,” she adds.
While fiber content will vary from product to product, Dr. Rossi say that “vegetable peels generally contain up to 31 percent of their fiber in their skins.” In other words, crunching on it (rather than throwing it away) is a foolproof hack worth using to boost your fiber intake with ease. “Not only is the extra fiber beneficial to your microbes, but it’s less wasteful and also saves time preparing food.” (A time-saving hack that’s good for you *and* the planet? Cue the slow clap.)
But that is not everything. dr. Rossi mentions that: antioxidant levels in fruits “may be up to 328 times higher in skins than the flesh,” so you’ll want to keep these — or at least save them for another use — to maximize their inflammation-fighting, free-radical-scavenging potential.
Fruit and Vegetable Peels Worth Eating (If You Don’t Already)
While there are too many fruits and veggies to list with peels, you can *peel them—but probably don’t want to upon discovering the nutritional value they contain—Dr. Rossi lists a few notable and even surprising among them.
Apples take first place over Dr. Rossi’s list of peels and peels to keep and enjoy. “An apple with skin contains up to 332 percent more vitamin K, 142 percent more vitamin A, and 115 percent more vitamin C than its peeled counterpart,” she says.
Sure – an apple a day can keep the doctor away, but a… unpeeled Apple may be able to postpone a visit to the MD for a while. Better yet, there are so many apple varieties to choose from, so you can change the tartness and delight your taste buds, while still maximizing your intake of the aforementioned alphabet vitamins.
dr. Rossi mentions potatoes as another type of product that she suggests consuming the skins of. “Potato skins are packed with fiber; they also contain up to 175 percent more vitamin C and 115 percent more potassium than a peeled potato,” she says.
Some recipes call for peeled potatoes, so if you prefer to stick with this method, know that you can (and should!) give the peel a second life for another dish, like Dr. Rossi’s own go-to snack: crispy homemade chips. “Just toss in extra virgin olive oil and season with smoky paprika and rock salt before popping them in the oven or grill,” she advises. In minutes, you’ll have a delicious, crunchy, high-fiber snack that’s undoubtedly healthier than store-bought varieties.
Yes, you read that right: Kiwis make the cut for Dr. Rossi’s list of product shells worth eating. (Full Disclosure: I’ve always been a pro-peel, but when I saw a cast member on I live by myself(my favorite Korean variety show bites into a whole kiwi with skin and all in one episode, I admit my jaw dropped.)
Although Dr. Rossi understands that it may take a little extra effort to back her suggestion, is it both safe and beneficial to feast on the fuzz. “Consuming a kiwi with skin on would triple the fiber content and help retain a greater amount of vitamin C,” she reassures us. Admittedly, the texture might not be for everyone, so if you want to test the waters for starters, check out this hack she swears by. “If you’re new to eating kiwi skin, finely chop the kiwi circles to reduce the feeling of fuzziness on your tongue,” she advises.
Are there peels you shouldn’t eat?
If you’re still incredulous about the kiwi reviews above, rest assured that neither Dr. Neither Rossi nor I will advise you to eat the thorny outside of pineapple or save onion skins to sprinkle as a garnish. Despite the peeling and peeling benefits in many fruits and vegetables, as mentioned above, she still has a no-go list.
“I wouldn’t recommend eating fruits and vegetables with a tougher, tougher exterior,” says Dr. Rossi, and cites avocados, bananas, and honeydew as a few examples worth passing along. And while citrus peels seem to fall under this umbrella, although you may not choose to eat them whole, they can be saved for other uses. “It’s worth remembering to save the zest of your citrus fruits — such as lemons, limes and oranges — as the zest can be grated into salad dressings, marinades and baked goods for extra zest.”
What it comes down to:
With a few exceptions, Dr. Rossi says it’s not really necessary to remove the skins from many fruits and vegetables. In fact, sticking to them is a seamless, healthy hack to boost your intake of fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Sure, some people may not enjoy the taste or texture of some peels, but that doesn’t mean you should completely miss out on these benefits.
“Smoothies are a great way to reuse peels and add extra veggies,” says Dr. Rossi, adding that she even adds frozen zucchini skins to her own blends for a creamy texture. “If you mix them with yogurt, dates, and other fruits, you won’t even taste them.” Plus, she recommends collecting any leftover edible scraps so you can make a base for soups and stews.
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